Divorce can be a struggle, but it is a struggle that parents separate from their children. And, in many cases, one parent will pay child support to the other parent that is the primary caregiver to the child (or children). When that occurs, both Florida parents likely wonder when child support stops.
Child support generally
Child support is outlined in Title VI of the Florida Civil Practice and Procedure. Chapter 61.13 explains that local family courts are empowered to order one or both parents to pay child support to another parent or third-party custodian. Child support guidelines are in Chapter 61.30.
When does it end?
For all Florida child support orders (and income deduction orders) ordered after 2010, the order will list the last payment on or around the child’s 18th birthday. However, Chapter 743.07 explains that a court may order child support for longer.
Reasons to extend support
First, if both parents agree to extend child support longer, then the judge can include that agreement in the child support order. There are several reasons why couples would make such an agreement, but it is usually part of a broader agreement that includes other monetary considerations (property division, alimony, etc.).
Second, if your child is still in high school at age 18, the judge can order the child support to continue throughout the child’s 18th year. The child must be expected to graduate before age 19 and still be a dependent of the parent. If they have moved out on their own already, child support may not be appropriate.
Third, if your child has a mental or physical incapacitation that occurred prior to their 18th birthday, the judge can order child support to last longer. This can be ordered to the supporting parent or a third-party that cares for the child, like a group home or facility. There is no time limitation in these situations.
Child support payments can be modified in the best interests of the child, including ending them to one parent and changing them to another.
If the child gains independence, child support may not be warranted anymore, even if they once were mentally or physically incapacitated. If the child emancipates from the parents, joins the armed services, dies or marries, child support also ends.